Cookie Dough In the Morning {Guest Host for Concrete Words--An Abstraction on the Morning}

Y'all I am tickled pink to have Ashley Larkin guest-host here today at sixinthesticks for #concretewords! She is not only an amazing writer, and so very generous and gracious, but I call her friend after meeting her at #jtreat in real life. You will love her writing. You will fall in love with her, like I have. Please make Ashely welcome in this space, and love on her--share her writing and encourage one another in the comments in the link-ups! Ashley is the host this week, which means she'll be reading link-ups and choosing one to highlight either on her blog Friday, or via social media! Don't miss out on this one!

It is early Saturday morning, and the kitchen calls. Not only the French Press, which I will approach like prayer, but the stainless steel mixing bowl, chilled in the fridge and mounded with chocolate chip cookie dough. Perhaps two batches worth, ready for raw eating. 

Sunlight streams through the sheer white curtains of our bedroom, alighting on blue walls that draw my sleepy imagination from dough to the flutter of bird wings. I blink long and slow, my lashes replicating the waking of winged ones outside who make their call, tweet-tweet-crank ta-ta-ta-ta-ta.
Glory be, it's a new day
Soon I am at the counter, taking butter knife to block of dough like a determined sculptor with her chisel. Creating mounds of chilled butter, sugar, egg, flour and chocolate that I pop into my mouth, alongside coffee made just right by a long splash of half and half.
Later in the morning, my eleven-year-old daughter and I, dressed still in jammie pants and tank tops, take our scoops and talk about foods that might await us in heaven.
Always I've envisioned crab, crusty bread with butter, the freshest of mangoes, chocolate, nectarines, berries, pears and lush green salads, though this morning we wonder for the first time if maybe the clouds are made of cookie dough. This being heaven, after all.
And I am wondering more and more if mornings might not be meant for imagining.
Of bird wings and heavenly banquet tables, of a day's possibilities. The sameness of sun rising and feet put to floor, yet each day holding a different mix of journeys and bowls and mysteries that we can't fully know upon first blinks.
Several weeks ago, my friend and I walked and talked in the early morning until she stopped short, "Look at that," she said, pointing to a plastic elephant with a broken trunk perched on the edge of a job site dumpster.

We laughed at the absurdity of it and snapped some photos and wondered how it came to be, and my friend observed that you often see things early in the morning you would scarcely see in the fullness of day.
When the impossibilities have been cleaned up a bit.
When the burdens of the day have set into bones.
I wonder how often I have missed the joy of that thing which doesn't belong, those ridiculous elephants just around the corner because I'm too focused on the tasks and heaviness of day. How often I have embarked on morning tinged dread worry, rather than on the ground of possibility and hope, of new tales unrolling.
It's all foolishness, really -- this daily calling what is not as if it were, this naming true and delighting in what the world marks stupid. This bestowing forgiveness and proclaiming life from death and giving when you're needy and knowing joy when your heart aches and carrying the burden of forgotten ones and telling the truth about yourself.
And this cookie dough before breakfast and this pachyderm among garbage might be, too, a little slice of grace and holy imagination that rise new with the morning and calls of the birds.

***I should take a moment here. Some dear readers may worry about my wisdom in eating the raw dough which I love so! I hear you. I must say that I know the dangers of raw egg, but I can't seem to choose otherwise. I am an Eater of the Dough and one who lives a little dangerously, and apparently I am drawing my children down the same questionable path, just as my mother before me.


Ashley Larkin, wife to Michael and mama of three shining daughters, writes about living fully awake several times each week at her blog, Draw Near. You can receive updates on Facebook and connect with Ashley on Twitter at @AshleyMLarkin.

Gratitude: {1136-1153}....

Making new friends while my children swim at practice :: Conversation, breeze and splashing, storm coming up :: a spontaneous conversation with a friend at her house, how we delve in without hesitation :: Ivy winning 1st place in backstroke, the first time she's ever won something :: how it feels to see her confidence grow :: spontaneous frozen yogurt with dear friends :: spur of the moment piling up of four more kids in my SUV {for a total of eight kids} for a spend the night at my house because they begged and their mom needed a break :: serving the "least" of these :: lots of pizza, breadsticks, and cinnamon sticks :: seeing the fruits of my friend's hard work in her obedient, respectful, loving children :: church on Sunday morning, all eight kids lined up like ducklings behind mother :: breeze, small sprinkling of rain on the veranda, the smell of chicken and smoke rising :: Children playing in costumes, my little Lilly supergirl :: Kirov chasing the ball, little ones throwing :: chicken on the grill and pasta around my friend's table :: long goodbyes and a future guest-room named "mine" by my friend-- well before a move actually takes place--a sign of a long-lasting friendship :: a two-hour long Sunday afternoon nap which cures anything

{This post shared with AnnLauraJenJennifer for #TellHisStoryImperfect Prose, the EO and Michelle} 


***Dear readers,  I will not be writing much here at the blog this summer, save a couple of posts for BibleDude once a month.  My husband and I have decided to send the girls back to public school this fall, so that I can rest and recover from chronic illness, and this Mama has a ton to do to get them ready for a test in July. I will have guest writers to host--the lovely and ever-dedicated to Concrete Words Ruth Povey will be taking it on July 1st. I hope you will come back here for that! I have had so much fun with Concrete Words since Amber Haines said sixinthesticks will be it's home for good. I hope those of you who have been with Amber the whole time will be along for this wild, fun ride! I've never had so much fun with writing!! We will hit the ground running again with #concretewords when school begins in August. 

What this link-up is about: We "write out spirit" by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going "what in the world is a concrete word?!"--this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what's around us--concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber's take on this. It was very helpful to me--I think it will be beneficial for you, too.

A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words--
                                             and the prompt--Please no entries with how-to's, advertising,
                                             or sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords--
                                               please share so others can join!

Today's prompt is the Morning

The prompt for July 1st...to be announced soon--please check back. {Ashley will highlight a beautiful post from this link-up on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!}

Now let's have some fun with Concrete words! {Please be sure you've used the prompt before linking}


  1. The plastic elephant, trunkless, blaring on the rim of a dumpster! fantastic!! the stuff of fantasy, if we hadnt seen it with our own eyes! The makings of a children's story?
    And i so agree, Ashley...Morning, falling between the night's dreams and the day's work, seems an ideal time for imagining! Setting our minds free to wander and play with possibles and impossibles! Perhaps it's even what our dreams prepare us for. But is it the time for raw cookie dough??? Did your mother never teach you how dangerous that is?! xo, much love, your mother

  2. Here's to those ridiculous elephants and the joy or discovering everyday wonders. Beautiful post!

  3. Hey I used to have an elephant like that many years ago....hmmmm....could it be? Thank you Ashley - for encouraging us to look for the unexpected in each new day. And alas, I confess, I love my cookie dough too!

  4. Great post Ashley, and oh, my, are there really people who don't eat raw cookie dough or lick the cake beaters. How much they've missed!

    Nacole, praying for your full healing. It was so great to me you at JT retreat.

  5. Such a fantastic post! I so enjoyed reading this and as a fellow cookie dough eater, I entirely approve ;-) I really loved this food for thought: 'I wonder how often I have missed the joy of that thing which doesn't belong, those ridiculous elephants just around the corner because I'm too focused on the tasks and heaviness of day.'

  6. oh, this idea stole my heart: to meet the morning 'on the ground of possibility and hope, of new tales unrolling.'

    yes. this is how i want to embark on the adventure of the day, too. with eyes wide open to elephants, cookie dough, and all.

    beautiful and riveting, Ashley.

  7. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Oooh, a children's story. I like that idea. The stories that elephant could tell. :-) I think you are so right about the morning -- between the "night's dreams and the day's work"...no wonder it seems the right time for imagining. I know, wasn't my mother so horribly remiss?! Can you imagine? Why, of course you can. Love you, Mama.

  8. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    And here's to you, ML! Happy to be on the hunt of discovery with you.

  9. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    No way. Did you really?! And you gave him away? :-) I'm so glad to know you're a dough eater too, Kelly. Makes me feel happy to know I'm not alone in my (questionable) guilty pleasure.

  10. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Oh, Elizabeth. So happy to see you here. I know -- isn't that something that some people have never known the joy?! Praying with you for Nacole. Such a pleasure to meet you both at Jumping Tandem...two blogger friends made real life ones from opposite sides of the country. It does my heart good.

  11. I love your whimsy. It may be part of why I recognized your home to be so you before we ever met in real life. The children's art, the welcome scrawled in chalk and the snacks all set out. Your children have a great mama and it shows. To let fantasy be a part of their lives builds the empathy and strength of mind to look beyond what is for what could be and that is the formula for any world changer, to first be a dreamer. Love you girl! And Nacole, I finally wrote one!!! ;)

  12. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Thanks so much for your kind words and for your dough endorsement, Ruth. :-) It's been a joy to get to know you a little through your Concrete Words. I so look forward to reading yours on July 1st.

  13. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Thank you, dear Kelli. Such a challenge for me, too. Let's keep pressing on to see (and taste!) the good, the quirk and all the raw deliciousness of this life. xoxo

  14. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Oh, to be known by you for whimsy, friend -- how that tickles me. It's been a long road -- and one I'm still on to know the freedom that allows me the space to see and experience life in a more childlike way. (I scarcely did that when I was a child.) And truly, that you recognized my home as me, through my words before we'd even met...that is one of my favorite compliments I've received since blogging. Also this: "Any world changer [must] first be a dreamer!" How I hope both for my girls! Love you, Alia.

  15. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 10, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Can't wait to read what you've written!

  16. "Calling what is not as if it were, this naming true and delighting in what the world marks stupid. This bestowing forgiveness and proclaiming life from death and giving when you're needy and knowing joy when your heart aches and carrying the burden of forgotten ones and telling the truth about yourself."

    I see this at work in you, Ash, and I love you for it. What an example of you are for your girlies.

  17. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    I caught my chocolate oversight and included it in the lead-in over at my place, but CHEESE -- how on earth or in heaven could I forget about cheese?! Especially that Rogue Valley Blue...heavenly for sure. Your idea about half batches of dough is a brilliant one! Why have we never talked about that?!
    I had to smile at the thought of you and the precious fam working on your "good mornings." I love your sleepy morning selves and your honesty. Thanks for passing on the love, Sis! And happy first day of summer! xoxo

  18. This post stirs my imagination, friend. The way you catch things in the spaces between, like you're not missing a beat (and I don't mean that you're perfect) - but you're pressing in. And this thought - that maybe mornings are meant for imagining - when we start the day already burdened down by so many things that aren't in the moment - it's beautiful and hopeful. And yes, whimsical :-) I love you and the woman that you are and the mama that you are, and I hope to be a little more like you.

  19. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 12, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    What an encourager you are, friend. And yes, isn't that true how often our burdens are about that which is not in the moment? There's much to be said for this catching things in the spaces between, as you say -- the manna falling into our hands right here because this is where God is, truly giving us what we need (whether it be a moment of whimsy or a call to trust right here because we so painfully feel our lack). Thankful for you and the ways we are able to share in the journey together, love.

  20. A great post. I particularly loved these words, "you often see things early in the morning you would scarcely see in the fullness of day" before "the burdens of day have set into bones". So true and profound. Morning mists lend themselves to dreams, imaginings, wonder and mystery. As we seek God's presence at the start of the day we unite with all that is mystical and full of potential. This insight into your family life and likes is beautiful, Ashley. We have conversations about heaven and all its complexity and wonder in our home too. I'm hoping for lots of fruit, dark chocolate and cheese - oh, and some lovely crispy granary bread to go with it! I'm sure all our tastes and personal preferences will be catered for by our loving and joy-bringing heavenly Father. Blessings :)

  21. Ashley Tolins LarkinJune 13, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Sweet Joy, thank you for your words. I love this: "Morning mists lend themselves to dreams, imaginings, wonder and mystery. As we seek God's presence at the start of the day we unite with all that is mystical and full of potential." What words of hope and an open spirit. Beautiful.
    I think you and I will likely be sharing some great eatin' at that heavenly banquet table (we have many food tastes in common)! Blessings to you, too, friend. I enjoyed reading your Concrete Words this week.



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